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Varanasi Buddhist Tourism

Varanasi Travel Guide

Introduction
Buddhism was born and thrived in India for 1700 years. Between the 5th century B.C. and 12th century A.D. the whole of India was rich with the culture of Buddhist life that spread to other parts of the world. Gautama, born in the sixth century BC, was the son of the ruler of the Sakya clan. His birthplace in the foothills of the Terai is known as Lumbini, which is now a part of Nepal. The religion of Buddhism has originated from India and has deep roots in the religious and cultural capital of India, the city of Light, Varanasi. Sarnath is a famous tourist place in the Varanasi and has great importance in the Buddhism as Gautam Buddha has given his first sermon at Sarnath. A huge fair is held at Sarnath on this occasion of Buddha Jayanti and the remnants related to him are taken out side for the public display. There are some other places besides Sarnath such as Gaya, Kushinagar and some other parts of India, where the Buddha Mahotsav is celebrated with great passion every year. Buddha Mahotsav has become the center of attraction at the day of Buddha Purnima that attracts large crowds of Buddhist people from each corner of the world. At this day, Buddhists make pray and worship the statue of Gautam Buddha at different Buddhist temples in Sarnath. Sermons and reading of the Buddhist scriptures are another significant spiritual activities carried out by the devotees at Sarnath. They put forward fruits, flowers, candles, etc in front of the statues of the Lord Buddha according to their beliefs and customs. Decoration of the whole area at Sarnath with the earthen lamps takes place in the evening of the day. Buddha Mahotsav was first started at the Sarnath in the year 1998 by the UP tourism and Ministry of Tourism of Government of India. K. R. Narayanan was the president of India at that time and he had inaugurated the mahotsav. Sarnath, 10 km from Varanasi, where the Buddha preached his first sermon in the Deer Park, contains the most impressive remains, as well as a modem temple. The Dharmarajika, Chaukhandi and Dharnek stupas are outstanding. There are also the remains of a monastery, and the beautifully polished Lion Capital of Ashoka. Sarnath contains a rich library and at the Mula gandha Kutir Vihara there are excellent frescoes by Kosetsu Nosu. The Sarnath Museum, not far from the site, contains some of the finest specimens of Buddhist sculpture. At all centers of Buddhist worship, the Vaisakha (April-May) full moon is observed as the anniversary of three important events - the Buddha's birth, Enlightenment and death, while the Asadh (July - August) full moon is observed as the anniversary of his first sermon.

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